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“There’s no ‘there’ there.”

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Presentation on theme: "“There’s no ‘there’ there.”"— Presentation transcript:

1 “There’s no ‘there’ there.”
Is “there” a noun or an adverb? Laura Blumenthal Douglas College Poll the room – establish that different people have different ideas.

2 Adverb Adverbial usages = at that place, to that place, usually at the end of a sentence or clause: They have a laundromat and a café there. Don’t go there!

3 Pronoun If it’s a pronoun, why doesn’t the verb agree with it, or why doesn’t it change forms? There is a man; there are two women. This is a man; these are two women.  The form of the pronoun must change. Note: There doesn’t change: this/these does.

4 Pronoun If it’s a pronoun, why doesn’t the verb agree with it, or why doesn’t it change forms? It works like “what”: What is the answer? What are the reasons?

5 Which is more frequent? Pronoun: 47 Adverb: 3 Source:

6 Typical student errors
“They went to there” “It was a place where were many people.” WHY? Even advanced students may produce sentences like “They went to there” or “It was a place where were many people.” Why is the word “there” confusing to students, and how can we make it clearer?

7 Interference from L1

8 Interference from L1 “There is a library there.”
(Translate into a language you know.)

9 Interference from L1 Spanish: Hay una biblioteca ahí. = It has a library there. French: Il y a une bibliothèque là-bas. = It has there a library down there. German: Es gibt eine Bibliothek dort. = It gives a library there. Turkish: Şurada kütüphane var. = At there library exists. Japanese: Asokoni toshokan-ga arimasu. = That place-in library (nominative) exists. Mandarin: Nàlǐ yǒu yīgè túshūguǎn. = That place there is a library. Korean: Do suh guan en jugi e yo. = Library is at place. Arabic: Tuwjad maktaba hunak = There is library there.

10 Resources The other reason: Not dealt with adequately in the resources.

11 Resources A. Learners’ dictionaries

12 Resources A. Learners’ dictionaries
Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 7th Edition (2005) Adverb only!


14 Resources A. Learners’ dictionaries Oxford ESL Dictionary (2004)
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, Advanced, 5th Edition (2009) Pronoun and Adverb



17 Resources B. Grammar textbooks for learners

18 Resources B. Grammar textbooks for learners
Only “there is/are” without identifying the P.O.S.

19 Resources C. Websites

20 Resources C. Website – jackpot!
There is a glass there, where the first there is a pronoun (the so-called 'existential there') and the other there is an adverb.– FumbleFingersNov 20 '13 at 4:11

21 Resources D. Grammar textbooks for teachers
Parrott, M. (2010) Grammar for English Language Teachers (2nd ed). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Celce-Murcia, M. (1983) The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher's Course. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

22 Resources D. Grammar textbooks for teachers
“there is/are” – explained as “dummy”subject confusion with the other there – not mentioned in Parrott “non-referential” - contrasted in Celce-Murcia



25 Concordance worksheet
Your task: Identify the different types of usages. Decide with your partner what to call each different type. (50-instance Brown concordance, on

26 Concordance worksheet My results:
Adverb: 3 there is (in various tenses + negative) there is: 10 there are: 5 there was: 7 there wasn’t: 1 there were: 2 there has been: 5 there has not been: 1 there will be: 2 there’s not: 1 NOTE: there [BE] no 11! variations on there is: 22 + adverb there also is there certainly was not Hedging there may be there seemed to be there should be Should there be …? there would be Other: there existed

27 Implications (for teaching)
Teach both – contrast them. RE-introduce “there” = pronoun, when introducing a structure that it goes with, or a function such as hedging

28 Implications (for teaching)
Include it in exercises about modals (there will be, there would be), past tense modals (there could have been, there must have been) hedging (there seems to be, there are evidently, there could be, there is evidence of)

29 Implications (for teaching)
Don’t forget question formation: Will there be? Would there be? Could there have been? Does there seem to be [hard!]? Are there evidently [awkward]?

30 Laura Blumenthal (
Thank you! With special thanks to my language support: Yoriko Gillard Haisen (Edwin) Zhang Eun-Yu (David) Kim Huda Al-Tayar Amal Ayyash Laura Blumenthal

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